Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1894 Usher's Stout

This recipe has been held over from last week. I was away in London when it arrived.

Scottish Stout. It seems to have diverged quite early from the English version. But you must already know that. I've only said it a few thousand times. But you expect some sort of evidence, don't you? And who am I to deny you it?

Here are some London Stouts of the same era:

English Stouts of the 1890's
Date Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp pale malt brown malt black malt amber malt glucose other sugar
24th Jan 1895 Truman Export Stout 1074.8 17.8 6.92 3 3.5 58º 76.29% 14.10% 9.61%
9th Jul 1894 Truman Imperial Stout 1097.2 11.0 5.25 2 2 3 60º 70.03% 10.59% 6.05% 13.34%
9th Jul 1894 Truman Double Stout 1081.7 11.0 4.41 2 2 3 60º 70.03% 10.59% 6.05% 13.34%
9th Jul 1894 Truman SS 1075.9 11.0 4.10 2 2 3 60º 70.03% 10.59% 6.05% 13.34%
9th Jan 1895 Whitbread SS 1080.9 1026.0 7.26 67.86% 9.57 3.86 2 2 58º 59.07% 11.23% 3.74% 15.40% 10.56%
9th Jan 1895 Whitbread SSS 1094.5 1035.0 7.87 62.95% 9.57 4.51 2 2 58º 59.07% 11.23% 3.74% 15.40% 10.56%
14th May 1887 Fuller BS 1070.4 1025.2 5.97 64.17% 7.6 2.50 1.5 1.75 57º 57.81% 15.78% 5.61% 20.80%
Truman brewing book document B/THB/C/096 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Whitbread brewing book document LMA/4453/D/09/089 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Fuller's brewing records.
Assuming 336 lbs for a qtr of pale malt, 254 lbs for black and brown malt and 280 lbs for amber malt

Only Fuller's BS comes anywhere close to the sugar content of Usher's Stout. All the others have at most half the sugar of Usher's. Interesting, that. That's the main difference in the grists.

Surprisingly, Usher's has one of the highest brown malt contents. That's quite significant. London brewers, in general, kept faith with brown malt in their Porters and Stouts right until the bitter end. While in many regions, brewers switched in the middle of the 19th century to a grist of just pale and black malt. The black malt content of Usher's is lower than most of the London Stouts, but not all.

The gravity of Usher's is a good bit lower than any of the London Stouts at just 1061. The weakest London Stout is 1070º

There's a considerable difference in the hopping rate of Usher's Stout compared to the London Stouts. It works out to 1.36 lbs per imperial barrel. The London beer with the fewest hops, Fuller's BS, has almost double. Usher's must have been considerably sweeter.

I've nothing else to tell you so let's hurry on to Kristen . . . .

Kristen’s Version:


As you can see we’ve moved on in time up to the 1890’s. Things are different even in the few years from the last Usher’s sets. Lots more use of sugars and many more instances of non-Scottish ingredients. Enjoy!


Grist – As you can see there is a ton of sugar in this beer so it’s of the utmost importance to chose very good malts. I’m going with Golden Promise as my base for this one. I really love Fawcett’s Brown and Black malts so those will do very well indeed. I used some tasty unrefined cane sugar from Jamaica but really turbinado-y sugar will do well. I made the Invert No2 according to my dilution spec’s over on my buddy Nicks site. Found here: Make sure you use a good Blackstrap…unsulfured as always.

Hops – The hops here are a background note. A good enough amount to keep the beer from being too sweet but also a touch of dry hop adds another layer of complexity. The Goldings really add a freshness to the aroma that brightens this beast up.

Yeast – Nottingham or Fullers. That being said, if you are worried about over attenuation use the London III. That will keep it beefy. The problem is with all that No2 invert you’ll have a good amount of tastyness leftover anyway. Use your own discretion.


Arctic Alchemy said...

That's a plantation load of sugar, can't wait to brew it !

Kristen England said...

I find that this beer really is at its best around room temperature. It looses a lot of its character when its cold and the sweetness is really the only thing you can get out of it. Warm is even better!

Unknown said...


Can we nail down a "good molasses" brand for the dilution method yet? All I can find in my supermarket is Grandma's molasses. I'd be willing to order something online. What are your favorite 3 brands for this method. Hey, maybe they'll sponsor you. Maybe not.

Kristen England said...

Sure. It really doesn't matter when you gets started what you use as you'll have to get used to the color your blackstrap gives. Some do more and less. The lot changes also. For homebrewers it really doesn't matter a ton. I also am only looking to make the best product and don't care about organic or not.

Here are the ones I like:

Plantation Blackstrap Molasses (US)
Golden Barrel Blackstrap (US)
'Feed grade blackstrap' (US)
Meridian organic blackstrap (UK)

Specific to the feed grade, it is MUCH cheaper than the others in a much higher volume. The lots vary much greater in this one b/c its specifically feed grade however, if you get 2 gal of it for $10, it will last you pretty much forever. It will also last, pretty much forever.

For any of them, you have to play around a bit as the color is a bit different.

Will said...

I've been making brewers invert for a while now, almost two-dozen batches of the stuff, but I've never really been happy with the flavor of of the sugar from molasses/dilution method. For my tastes, it always seems like the finished invert has more of a molasses flavor than the invert you find in the UK. I've tried using a few different brands of molasses, including Golden Barrel, but it still doesn't taste right.

Do we know what types of sugars they were using to make their invert back in the day? Surely not molasses...??

Revolution Brewing said...

I am sooooo making this next. It might be summer over here in NZ but this looks bang on what I want to drink for the new year.
I have the Thames Valley/Brakespear yeast on the go and think this will go well with this recipe.
Stout ahoy!

Kristen England said...


You have to get used to using a single brand. If not you'll get results all over the spectrum. I've blindly tasted purchased dark invert, the one I made and then the dilution method and all were very very close when seeing the results. Its definitely in the ability of the maker to make them 'right'. That being said, each place you get invert from is a little different also. What we are looking for is to have an option for people to get very very close to having the purchased thing.


I very much like the Brakespear for stouts just make sure not to use too much yeast as this one finishes pretty high.

dana said...

Kristin, would you put this much black patent in the boil instead of the mash? Do you have general outside limits to the boiling of patent malt?

Kristen England said...

I Wouldn't say it was a matter of too much black malt specifically more to much 'matter'. Probably right around 6 g per liter max or so of black. I've done more but this is safe.